And it’s MK III with the ball, Heavy Perspective have a good strategic position now, and it’s into overtime at an even score. Coaches have primed their movements, let’s see where it’s going…and it’s gone between two players of Heavy Perspective! An easy touchdown for MK III, and they take the season!
I might have been playing a little too much of Frozen Cortex, Mode 7’s newest game. Released just last week, it has received positive reviews from a number of outlets, and rightfully so. A futuristic take on Rugby or American Football (depending on your perspective), it’s a whiteboard strategy simulator. 5 players on each team aim to get the ball either into the scoring zone or through specific areas to get points, the twist being that the game is a mix of real time and turn-based strategy. Both players control the whole team, and set directions for players to follow after each player (or coach) is done. The directions then play out in real time, meaning both players must simultaneously anticipate the other’s moves and outmaneuver them. A range of singleplayer and multiplayer modes on top then boost the variety, but the real enjoyment lies in the base mode.
Those who played Frozen Synapse, Mode 7’s previous game, might recognise the overall style as it also used the mix of turn-based and real-time strategy. Arguably Frozen Synapse is more complicated, as it featured different weapons to increase the variety in strategy required, although I’d say that Frozen Cortex is a better application of the base ideas and themes.
A futuresport with hidden politics and violent robots, what’s not to like?
The strategy genre has been somewhat lacking as of late. While we’ve had multiple games such as Grey Goo or Company of Heroes 2, nothing has given the genre the boost in the way Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty did. Many ideas in the genre are incredibly stale now, there are often games simply doing the same things better. There’s a reason many people stick to games like Crusader Kings 2 for their turn-based strategy or Supreme Commander for real-time strategy. This is where both Frozen Cortex and Frozen Synapse represent the future of strategy.
Innovation can be hard to come by at some points in the gaming world. Sometimes we’ll be going through months of same old releases, without anything really original coming out. The strategy genre is the epitome of this blandness. While Grey Goo simplified systems to make it easier for those who don’t want to learn 30 hotkeys Starcraft-style, it was, in the end, another RTS. Endless Legend is innovating on the 4X genre, rather than taking strategy as a whole in a new direction. Both ‘Frozen’ games, on the other hand, are exactly what the strategy genre needs.
There are two ways to build a strategy game well. One is to give it the most simple of systems, executed well, and allow players to perfect it. The other, is to have many, many units, strategies, and features to have a wide variety of options at a player’s disposal. Total War is a series that features a large amount of content, Frozen Cortex is a game which features one simple system, and Starcraft is a game that bridges the two.
The preparing stage is simple, more so than Frozen Synapse, move your players and mimic the opponent’s moves
Just because a system is simple, it doesn’t lack depth. In Frozen Cortex, the system has been made in such a way that there are many different strategies and tactics available, based on both the systems themselves and the theme as a whole, the unpredictability of a human opponent. I’ve won a few games just by doing the most obvious thing, since it’s not what you’d expect.
There are very few games in this style, Hearthstone is rapidly leaving it with its expansions and games like Toribash have a very small community. Frozen Cortex already has a reasonable playerbase despite it being a new, indie game, with an arguably high price tag for an indie game. With its fantastic reviews, it is certainly being recognised as something great in the strategy genre.
Frozen Cortex’s style of asynchronous, turn-based and real-time strategy is where the genre needs to move to in the future. Not to say that typical strategy games don’t have a place, but this creativity is where we need strategy to move towards. With the simple, satisfying gameplay, yet impossibly high skill ceiling, Frozen Cortex has understood what makes strategy enjoyable, and applied that to something original. It’s a simple idea executed just about perfectly. Mode 7 Games have made one of the best strategy games of the past few years, they’re the best example of creativity and innovation in a genre that has repeated ideas for some time now. I’d wholly recommend getting Frozen Cortex, support the evolution of strategy.